It is still early in the New Year. Many people make - and then break - resolutions for the new year. How are your's going? I think Jesus told us the one resolution we need to make DAILY - Matthew 6: 33 - Seek first HIM---and His will for our lives! If that is not done, then I believe we are probably doomed to fail at any resolve me make.
This morning I began a devotional by A. W. Tozer designed for pastors/ministry leaders. The title was "Personal Life: Let God Alone." Immediately I was reminded of the old cliche, "let go and let God." The scripture it used was James 1: 4 - "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." You guys know me, I love to go to the Amplified Bible and meditate on the words they use . The verse reads this way there, "But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." A few additional words to emphasize the assurance.
Tozer tells us that through this verse God is saying, "I stand ready to pour a little liquid fire into your heart, into your spiritual being!" However, we respond: "No, Lord, please excuse me. That sounds like fanaticism—and I would have to give up some things!"
So, what are we doing? We refuse His desire for us, even though we want all the benefits of His cross. That cannot be! We must resolve to seek first Him---and allow Him to do His work in us.
The devotional goes on to say: "There is this thoughtful phrase in The Cloud of Unknowing: "He wills thou do but look on Him and let Him alone." We are being challenged to "Let God alone." Let Him do His work in us. Do not try to stop Him. Do not stand in His way. Do not "prevent Him from kindling your heart, from blessing you and leading you out of a common state into that of special longing after Him."
You and I do not have to "coax" God. He is not waiting for us to beg Him for His blessings. The blessings are His to give and He waits for us to let Him work.
Again the devotional says, "Look on Him and let Him work, let Him alone." Get your hands down to your side and stop trying to tell God where to cut. Stop trying to make the diagnosis for God. Stop trying to tell God what to give you. He is the Physician! You are the patient...." I guess it is our human nature to try to reverse the roles and manipulate things along, but we really need to heed what Tozer is saying. As we are admonished in the Psalms - be still and KNOW God. Our constant efforts to "reverse roles" and manipulate things to "help the process" stands in the way of God accomplishing His full and complete work in us.
Today, I challenge you (and myself) to let Him work in you (us). As we do, our spiritual lives will begin to "blaze like the rising sun." It will be visible to those around us. We will be better able to withstand the snares of the enemy!
Here is the prayer they ended the devotional with: "Lord, I know there is a work You want to do in my life today. I'll try to stay out of the way, take my hands off, and let You work! I'll put my hands to my side even now as a sign that I'm going to let You alone today to do Your work in me. Amen."
“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.” Acts 2:42, HCSB
Reading the accounts of the early church from the book of Acts provides for us the BASICS that need to be a part of the life and work of the church. Fast-forward 2000+ years and we see all sorts of churches. Each church has a different personality and expresses itself in a variety of ways. It makes no difference what the building looks like, whether the pastor wears a black robe or blue jeans, or whether the church is traditional or contemporary. The important thing is that the church is biblical.
Some have said biblical churches must have at least four things in common – learning, fellowship, worship, and prayer. I was taught the five functions of the church are evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship. In recent years, I have emphasize these things and concentrated on the necessity of bathing the efforts of the church in prayer.
Let me share a little about those things that are essential in the biblical, New Testament that we strive to become:
Evangelism: Yes, we cannot ignore the responsibility of the church to reach the lost of all nations. We claim we want to become an Acts 1: 8 church. If that is true, we - the individual members of the local church – need to be personally engaged in reaching our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost.
Discipleship/Learning: The apostles were set aside as teachers in the early church because they had walked with Jesus and because he had commanded them to make disciples. God still calls out and equips people to teach others about Christ. When we “walk with Jesus,” we learn from Him and He commands us to “make disciples” as well.
Fellowship: I am not talking about the “fellowship meal” we are good at in the modern church. God did not design the Christian life to be a lone, solitary venture. He wants us to encourage one another, enjoy one another, and build wholesome relationships with other Christians. As we grow in Christ, we develop a stronger bond/love for one another and are willing to demonstrate that love in a deeper/sacrificial manner.
Ministry: Linked to that fellowship that grows for others from our love for God, we commit our lives to serving one another/others (ministry). The early church considered nothing their own and shared with one another as they had need. Out of our love for others, we also minister to the temporal needs of others. There is a desire to minister to the temporal needs of lost people in an effort to share the Gospel with those around us (near and far) that are without Christ.
Worship: “The breaking of bread” probably referred to the Lord's Supper. The early church met regularly for the purpose of worshiping and remembering Christ's death and resurrection. In other words, they gathered to remind themselves why they existed. The more we learn of God and His love, the more we want to express our gratitude—praise Him for His provision---declare our love towards Him. We desire to gather with others to declare our adoration and praise.
Prayer: I have listed the “Five Functions of the Church.” These functions MUST BE bathed in prayer. Prayer was the lifeline of the first church. It remains the lifeline for the church today! If your church is not a praying church, you will not know what Christ wants you to do. John Hagee once stated, “a prayerless church is a powerless church.” There is much truth in that characterization of a non-praying church. Truth is, there is too much at stake for us to think we can survive without prayer.
When you loo at the churches around you, don’t become distracted by the differences in structure, location, style of worship, etc. The scriptures declare continuously what is really important for us to be obedient to the call of God to BE His church! Among the scriptures you might want to read and meditate upon include: Acts 2; Acts 17: 10-12; Colossians 1: 3 – 8; Ephesians 4 – 6, etc.
What is the “model New Testament Church?” Look to the Bible as your guide and strive to BE the Christ-follower His is calling us to become.
Associational Missionary at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!